If you experience sudden, sharp, localized pain on the right side of your lower abdomen or sudden pain that starts around your navel and sometimes runs to your lower right abdomen, you may have acute appendicitis.
The pain worsens with movement, walking or being touched, coughing, sneezing or even deep breathing.
In some cases, the pain is associated with nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever that may get worse as the condition progresses.
Visit your doctor immediately if you or your child has these worrisome signs or symptoms. Severe abdominal pain demands prompt medical attention.
What Is Appendicitis?
Your appendix is a finger-shaped sac that is attached and opens into the lower end of your colon on the lower right side of the abdomen. See figure below.
Medical Exams & Diagnosis
Your doctor will obtain a history of your signs and symptoms and do an exam of your abdomen to come up with a diagnosis.
Medical exams used to help in the diagnosis of appendicitis are:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will use gentle pressure on the painful area. When the pressure is abruptly released, the pain will feel worse. This tells your doctor that the surrounding peritoneum is inflamed. Your doctor will also check for abdominal muscle stiffness as a reaction to pressure over the inflamed appendix.
- Your doctor may perform a rectal exam to rule out gynecological problems that could be the source of pain in women of childbearing age.
- Blood test. A high white blood cell count indicates infection.
- Urine test. A urinalysis will help rule out possible urinary tract infection or a kidney stone as a source of pain.
Anticipate several weeks of recovery from surgery, or more if your appendix burst. To help your body heal:
- Avoid strenuous activities. If you had laparoscopic surgery, control your activity for 3-5 days. If you had open surgery, control your activity for 10-14 days. Ask your doctor regarding activity restrictions and when you can start normal activities after surgery.
- When coughing, support your abdomen. Position a pillow on top of your abdomen and apply pressure before you cough, laugh or move to help reduce pain.
- Get out of bed and move once you’re ready. Begin slowly and gradually increase your activity with time.
- Contact your doctor if pain medications are not helping.
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